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Old 04-07-2014, 12:58 PM   #1
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Default Car stereos. What do you have and why?

I stole the head unit out of the Miata to use in the P5 over the winter, and would rather get a new one than switch it back. I'm currently using a JVC KDX50-BT and it's been pretty awesome, although with the latest android update some of the bluetooth functionality has been lost. Still, it does what I need it to do.

I'm looking now for something new that has BT Pandora streaming and doesn't have a display that look like it was modeled from Optimus Prime's dick. What are you guys using?
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Old 04-07-2014, 01:25 PM   #2
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I think probably the closest thing i've used to what you're looking for is the Alpine IDA-X305.

WoofersEtc.com - IDA-X305SBT - Alpine Digital Media Receiver with Bluetooth Adapter

We put it in a buddy's S2000 and it's pretty much awesome. Great choice if you use an iSomething. Sounds good, looks decent, controls are easy. I don't know 100% if it'll stream from phone via bluetooth, as we installed a phone mount/dock from ProClipUSA at the same time and integrated an iPhallus cable into it at the same time, so the phone charges and sends music at the same time. Bonus points for mount making the phone a great GPS device to use.


In the Cherokee, we use an Alpine CDA-9884, which i also like. Looks good, understated, sounds good, controls are fairly intuitive, and will handle everything else we'd need in the future. Unsure if it will stream audio over BT, and it does not have integrated anything concerning Pandora.


In the MSM, we had a Kenwood Excelon KDC-X794, which is probably one of the best headunits i've ever used. Looks classy as ****, sounds awesome, great controls, and has an ENORMOUS volume ****, which is the ****. There is a more high-end version with BT and all that jazz called the X994 which might be closer to what you're looking for.

There's also this, which seems to be a cheaper equivalent to the first Alpine i mentioned: WoofersEtc.com - KIV-BT901 - Kenwood iPod/iPhone-oriented Digital Media Receiver with Bluetooth and Rear Camera Input

And there's this Kenwood, which specifically mentions both iPhone and Android Pandora contro: WoofersEtc.com - KDC-BT855U - Kenwood Single DIN In-Dash Car Stereo Receiver
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Old 04-07-2014, 01:36 PM   #3
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Don't know if Double Din is an option but I installed this in my wife's Jetta for her long commute into Pittsburgh:
AVIC-Z130BT - Flagship In-Dash Navigation AV Receiver with DVD Playback, Built-In Bluetooth®, and 7" WVGA Touchscreen Display | Pioneer Electronics USA

Wasn't cheap but I felt bad because she is in the car for at least 2 hours every day.
She loves it except for the radio reception is not very good. I might try a different antenna amp this summer when we can take it off the road for some work.
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Old 04-07-2014, 01:39 PM   #4
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get the new alpines that have the ability to adjust the audio using an iphone/android app. so cool.
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Old 04-07-2014, 02:11 PM   #5
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I'm a huge fan of Pioneer. I used to be an elitist and only buy Nakamichi, hurtz, you know those fancy brands but I bought a pioneer deck a few years back and have only been using them since. Now Nakamichi has dipped into some of the lower market segment as i believe it's easier to compete down there with technology being so easy to manufacture now.

Pioneer MVH-X360BT - This unit has bluetooth and starts at like $100.
NAKAMICHI NA350iBTR - This unit is probably pretty close

I do like the Pioneer DEH-X8600BH but I don't know if I'd really bother putting something more than $100 in a convertible that is really easy to get into.

You can modify volume from your phone on Bluetooth anyway the app doens't seem all that appealing to me.

Scenarioin which you need the volume adjusted. You're hard parked and are standing in front of the car but say "OMG I LOVE THIS SONG" and want to crank it up.... .001% of my listening experience.
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Old 04-07-2014, 02:22 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by y8s View Post
get an alpine if you want decent SQ out of the box.
FTFY.
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Old 04-07-2014, 02:45 PM   #7
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I could fit a double din but I would have to relocate my AFR gauge first, so I'm more interested in singles.

I was a Kenwood fanboy for many years, but stopped buying them after the quality issues I had on one of their fancy receivers. I'm not one to hold a grudge and I know how manufacturing works so I might give them another shot. That KDC-BT855U looks pretty damn cool.

Alpine's I've owned and liked as well but I never really could hear a difference in sound quality. Likely due to the many years I've spent in boiler rooms.

One of my favorite features the current JVC I have is that as soon as you start your car, it opens Pandora on your phone and starts playing, then closes the app on the phone when you shut the car off. I wish they would tell you what stereos do that up front, I had a Kenwood that wouldn't and I hated ******* with my phone while in the car.
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Old 04-07-2014, 02:56 PM   #8
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What do you stereo experts use as an amp? I bought some cheap HU from best buy so I don't care if it gets stolen, but the HU alone isn't enough clean volume for top down (or even soft-top up) driving. I've been looking at an Alpine Power Pack, the universal one can be bridged to 90Wx2. Any other recommendations for small form factor low powered amps?
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Old 04-07-2014, 03:03 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thenuge26 View Post
I bought some cheap HU from best buy
This may be part of your sound problem. I used to think that the ratings on head units were all the same, but my 50 watt RMS JVC was a hell of a lot louder than my 50 watt bottom of the barrel Eclipse. Sound quality was exponentially better as well.

Are you pushing subwoofers? You'll defiantly need an amp for that, but it seems to me that most name-brand (and not bottom of the product line) head units are more than loud enough.
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Old 04-07-2014, 03:03 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thenuge26 View Post
What do you stereo experts use as an amp? I bought some cheap HU from best buy so I don't care if it gets stolen, but the HU alone isn't enough clean volume for top down (or even soft-top up) driving. I've been looking at an Alpine Power Pack, the universal one can be bridged to 90Wx2. Any other recommendations for small form factor low powered amps?
I've used the Power Pack on two cars now, and i haven't been super impressed with either

The first was Aaron's S2000 paired with the Alpine head unit, and it couldn't really hack it running a pair of CDT 6.5" Classic components. And well... the S2000 is a soundproof vault compared to a Miata.

We moved to a Polk amp for his setup, and it's awesome. The 2 channel one is pretty small. I'd recommend it.
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Old 04-07-2014, 03:03 PM   #11
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I got the DEH-X6600BT because it was on sale, could match my interior colors and had bluetooth which surprisingly works quite well on calls given the microphone and road noise. It also makes it convenient to control skip songs while playing spotify wirelessly right from the head unit
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Old 04-07-2014, 03:05 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dieselmiata View Post
This may be part of your sound problem. I used to think that the ratings on head units were all the same, but my 50 watt RMS JVC was a hell of a lot louder than my 50 watt bottom of the barrel Eclipse. Sound quality was exponentially better as well.

Are you pushing subwoofers? You'll defiantly need an amp for that, but it seems to me that most name-brand (and not bottom of the product line) head units are more than loud enough.

Speakers have probably the bigger impact on volume-before-sounds-like-**** aspect, honestly...

Pretty much all headunit power sucks.

The problem is matching db rating (sensitivity) to make the most use of what little actual clean power you have.

I'm not advocating using $50 brand new headunits of course, but a $100 head unit in a Miata is fine. Chuck an amp at it.
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Old 04-07-2014, 03:14 PM   #13
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I too took my headunit out of my Miata to put it in my P5 (which I just bought less than a week ago! Love my little FWD, wagon-miata).

I ended up doing a Nexus 7 install in my dash for sound running through a USB DAC.

It was honestly a bit bigger of a project than I was expecting, and was a bit expensive... but I LOVE the interface, and it certainly doesn't look like it was molded from a transformer's reproductive organ. It also offers a TON of flexibility and features that "normal" headunits just can't do.

Entertainment Upgrade | m-lev.com <- full write-up here.
This is the thread that inspired me Install Nexus 7 as in dash entertainment.

Basically you take a Nexus 7, install a custom ROM on it (super easy) and then run audio through a USB DAC to an amp which powers 8" 3-ways mounted in the NB oem door speaker positions.
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Old 04-07-2014, 03:44 PM   #14
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For amps I like to use soundstream, their tarantula series is good and reasonably priced I think.

I always have trouble with Miata sound advice because really the best advice is to not waste too much time and effort. The staging for a miata is really poor and although I'm reasonably happy with my setup I don't believe in making the whole world hear it.

My setup is nakamichi cd-400
soundstream TA2.160 (50w rms x 2 channel)
Focal PC-165 - 6 3/4" coaxial

I just unplugged the headrest speakers. I consider them pretty useless.

With this setup It doesn't take up much extra real estate, I don't have any power issues, I get pretty decent sound out of a less than optimal sound stage. So it's conceivable to do a setup very similar to this one for $300 and be happy.
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Old 04-07-2014, 05:36 PM   #15
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I just snagged a Pioneer X560BT to go in my travel/haul van. I'm liking this new trend of no CD player head units, just aux in and bluetooth. I haven't actually used a CD player in years so its just more stuff I'm paying for that I don't use. I chose the X560 because it has a decent dimmer and can be set to green to match my dash lighting, AKA, as the OP put it, it doesn't have a display that looks like Optimus Prime's dick.

No reports on sound quality yet since I'll be installing it tonight but honestly I've yet to have a head unit that I could hear a difference in. All I pay for are features and display appearance.
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